With more people retiring than beginning their careers, I am seeing evidence of workplaces retaining older workers by developing a flexible working policy to ensure they feel valued in their job. A potential skills shortage is resulting in more businesses providing cadetship and intern initiatives. For example, power companies are realising women can be just as good at clamouring up power poles and working as linesmen so they are now being targeted to join training schemes. I anticipate that further down the track, the title ‘linesmen’ will be a label of the past.
On the topic of gender, the EEO Trust made a submission to the NZX about its diversity policy, recommending listed companies include in their annual reports how many women are on their boards and in senior managerial roles. We are thrilled that this move has been adopted. The Australian Stock exchange led the way with a similar policy last year and I was pleased to learn in September that the number of women in senior roles across the Tasman is increasing. I hope to hear the same about listed local companies in 2013. As the EEO Trust has pointed out in workshops and presentations; having more women in senior levels increases productivity and profits. More businesses are asking us for advice about retaining talented female employees and, as a result, we are providing member organisations with more resources about parental leave policies, career pipelines and flexible working hours.
The increasing demand for information about successfully employing a more diverse workforce has been stimulated and nurtured by the EEO Trust. That it’s working is illustrated in our Work and Life Awards, which had a record number of entries this year. Among the 62 high-caliber initiatives, I was impressed with those who are investing time and money into providing numeracy and literacy lessons for staff struggling with English.
The supreme winner, Counties Manukau DHB’s Health Science academies, is a wonderful example of focusing on future workplace demands. Encouraging Pacific and Maori secondary school students to pursue a career in the region’s health sector makes perfect sense. A looming shortage of health professionals is not something any medical organisation can ignore and I urge other sectors to also look ahead. It’s up to every employer to start planning right now for future workforce challenges and look at a diverse range of options.
The EEO Trust has been undergoing a major restructure following a cut in government funding. Several positions were made redundant during the year and we are currently working towards employing a new general manager. The dedication and hard work by the EEO Trust team is admirable despite a period of potentially unsettling change. It is difficult to keep providing resources and advice with less public money and an increasing demand. However, thanks to sponsors of our awards and the understanding of member organisations, the EEO Trust has continued to provide material and knowledge for employers. The next year will be an exciting one as the EEO Trust develops new resources, research and a new direction.
2011 Annual Report (724k pdf) >>